Page images
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE

TO THE FIRST EDITION.

“I WOULD know What are the Principles of the Doctrine of CHRIST; and What is That Perfection, unto Which we are Exhorted to go on.”Heb. vi. 1.

May The HOLY SPIRIT Sanctify the wish, and Further the endeavour, that on reading The Gospel of The Incarnate SON of GOD and meditating Thereon, the thoughts of my heart may be founded on True Wisdom, and lead to the promotion of my

Soul's hope of Heavenly Peace and Holiness and Joy, through a lively faith in The Same JESUS CHRIST, our MEDIATOR and ADVOCATE, our Righteousness and our Reconciliation.

THOUGHTS ON THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.

FROM THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.-CHAP. I.

VERSE 14" The Book of the Generation of JESUS CHRIST, The SON of David, the SON

of Abraham." The Gospel according to St. Matthew, Which by the arrangement of the Evangelical History, and by general adoption first presents Itself, thus opensWhereby It Points at once to the great Forerunners in faith and holiness, from whom The Man CHRIST JESUS, Very GOD, and Very Man, The Promised MESSIAH, Descended ; Declaring that He, (Who was with The FATHER and The HOLY SPIRIT before all Worlds, and by Whom all Worlds were Made) was of the Flesh of David, and of the Seed of Abraham ;—of David, who was “the Man after GOD'S Own Heart ”_1st Samuel xiii. 14; and to whom it was Prophetically Said, in reference to That Same JESUS, “ Thine House and Thy Kingdom shall be Established for Ever before Thee "-2 Sam. vii. 16; and of Abraham, who was characterized as “ The Father of the Faithful,”—Rom. iv. 11; Gal. iii. 28; and in whom, it was repeatedly Pronounced from JEHOVAH that All the Families of the Earth should be Blessed ”—Gen, xii. 3, xxviii. 14.

In Relation to These Exceeding Great and Precious Promises Thus Made to Mankind in general in the Persons of Abraham and David, and the Spiritual Blessedness Awaiting their Fulfilment, by way of Illustrating Their more Particular Application, The HOLY GHOST, Whose is The Spirit of Prophecy, had long previously to the Advent of CHRIST upon Earth, thus by the pen of Jeremiah, Proclaimed, “Behold, the Days Come, Saith The Lord, that I will Raise unto David a Righteous BRANCH ; and A KING shall Reign and Prosper ; and shall Execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth! In His Days Judah shall be Saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and This is His Name, Whereby He shall be Called, • The LORD our RIGHTEOUSNESS'”—Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.

To Spiritual Blessings These Prophecies obviously Point ; and the Gospel is Intended to Direct the mind to JESUS as The Great FOUNTAIN from Whence They Flow-as The SOURCE, from which we may hope for Redemption ; and to obtain Reconciliation with The FATHER of Spirits, and Sanctification unto Divine and Immortal Honours—as The SUN of Righteousness, Who Brought Life and Immortality to Light; and Who has Thrown Open to us, in prospect here, and the Means of possessing hereafter, Heaven and Its Everlasting Joys.

The Jews, prior to the Advent of The MESSIAH, were universally in expectation of Him; and Prophecy had led them to calculate on His Being according to the Human Nature, the Descendant both of Abraham and David. The Evangelist therefore, in confirmation of the truth of such an Expectancy, boldly asserts (what, if it had been an untruth might easily and would instantly have been exposed as such by the Adversaries of the Christian faith,) that JESUŠ, Whom as CHRIST St. Matthew and the other Apostles worshipped, was the SON of David; the SON of Abraham.

B

Having prefaced with the above general assertion, the Evangelist then proceeds to the more minute elucidation of his position by tracing the entire Genealogy of The Great SUBJECT of his History, beginning with Abraham as the Parent Stock. And pre-eminently as this Individual is thus twice put forth in connection with An Event Important beyond all Others, excepting Creation, that have affected or can happen to Man, it seems but reasonable to inquire, how this Distinguished Individual spoke and acted, so as to draw down upon him Such Proofs of DIVINE Favour and Preference, that we may, according to our abilities and opportunities, go and do likewise ; and, cherishing in its fervency his faith, be Made Partakers, with him, of an Inheritance in the KINGDOM of HEAVEN.

The Scriptural History of Abraham begins with his genealogy as the Son of Terah, and a Descendant in the ninth generation from Shem, one of the Sons of Noah–It is thus related, “Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begat Lot ”—Gen. xi. 26, 27. And the first incident recorded of him is that of his marriage : “ Abram and Nahor (his only then surviving brother) took them Wives ; the name of Abram's wife was Sarai ; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the Daughter of Haran "-ib. 29. But the most acceptable Blessing upon such an union was, it seems, for a time Withheld from Abraham, by Him, Whose is the Fruit of the Womb ; for it is recorded that “Sarai was barren ; she had no Child "—ib. 30. At this time Abraham was probably about 60 years old ; and though of that age and married also, he seems to have attached hinself with filial reverence to the fate of his Father, and to have submitted to him with the most implicit obedience of a Child ; not suffering himself, by an assumed independence, to break that tie of affection and devotion towards a Parent, which indeed should be cherished in every age and act of life. The History thus continues- -" And Terah took Abram, his Son, and Lot, the Son of Haran, his (deceased) Son's Son, and Sarai, his Daughter-in-law, his Son Abram's Wife ; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go into the Land of Canaan: and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there ib. 31. In this situation Abraham continued for about 15 years, neither withdrawing his allegiance from his Father, though he was stricken in years, and incapable of advancing the welfare of his Family; nor his attachment from his Wife, though she had not crowned him with the glory of an Offspring. On the death of his Father, which occurred "in Haran” (ib. 32), Abraham had had a most unequivocal Testimony Borne to the piety of his heart, and the uprightness of his conduct, by the most Express Avowal of The DIVINE Favour and Preference towards him, in a Revelation of The ALMIGHTY'S Will on his behalf, thus Recorded—“Now the LORD had Said unto Abram, “Get thee out of thy Country and from thy Kindred and from thy Father's house, unto a Land, that I will Shew thee ; and I will Make of thee a Great Nation; and I will Bless thee, and Make thy Name Great: and thou shalt be a blessing ; and I will Bless them that bless thee; and Curse him, that curseth thee: and in thee shall all Families of the Earth be Blessed.'”—Gen. xii. 1 to 3. Great as was the Reward Promised on an obedience to This Command, yet Extending as It did, to a separation from the strong ties of Kindred and long indulged Connection; and Pointing to a hope beyond the natural reason of Man to justify, it is only in the perfection of Faith, that we can look for a solution of the principle, which influenced (as we shall sce) Abraham to so ready an obedience ; a principle of confidence in the Promises of GOD, that should actuate every Human breast, to which the knowledge of The LORD hath been Revealed; for “ Hath He Said ? And shall He not Do It?" or Who, that ever trusted in Him, hath been Forsaken? “ So Abram departed, as The LORD had Spoken unto him ; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old, when he departed out of Haran.

And Abram took Sarai his Wife, and Lot, his Brother's Son, and all their substance, that they had gathered, and the Souls that they had gotten in Haran : and they went forth to go into the Land of Canaan ; and into the Land of Canaan they came : and Abram passed through the Land unto the place of Sichem, unto the Plain of Moreh. And the Cans unite was then in the Land. And The LORD *Appeared unto Abram, and Said Unto thy Seed will I Give this Land !' And there builded he an Altar unto The LORD, Who Appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a Mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west and Hai on the east ; and there he builded an Altar unto The LORD ; and called upon the name of The LORD.”—Gen. xii. 4 to 8. On the first exercise of a docile and submissive Spirit The DIVINE Regard is Manifested ; and Renewed Encouragement Given to persevere in That Way, Which Leadeth unto Life Eternal. Oh, that an equal willingness and obedience emanated from every bosom, to which The HOLY SPIRIT Offers Its Admonitions, or The Holy Book of Life Its Incitements; and that, like Abraham, having tasted, in our hearts and spirits, of the Ever-Enduring Goodness and Mercy of GOD, we did like Abraham offer up, on every occasion, upon the altar of Faith the Acceptable incense of praise and thanksgiving !

Submitting to the Parental office of Guardian of his deceased Brother's Son, Abraham generously unites their fortunes and their destinies ; and is equally provident of his Nephew's welfare, as of his own. But when jealousies and disagreements unhappily arose between their respective Servants, Abraham, instead of assuming the authority of dictatorial power, or siding, under the influence of natural prejudice, in favour of his own Dependents, suggested, with all the prudence and feeling of the most disinterested Umpire, the means of avoiding such dissensions in future ; thus expressing himself to Lot—“Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my Herdsmen and thy Herdsmen! For we be Brethren. Is not the whole Land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me! If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”—Gen. xiii. 8, 9. Thus yielding even to a Nephew the palm of superiority in relinquishing to him the prior right of election : for Abraham knew what the Great Gentile Advocate for the Gospel has since instructed us, that it was right “ to give place unto wrath rather than to avenge ourselves.”—Rom. xii. 19; and that “no Man should seek his own ; but every Man another's wealth.”-1 Cor. x. 24 ; and he knew also What The FOUNTAIN of Wisdom bath since Revealed, both in Letter and Spirit (and which we shall find, if we but make the trial), that “Blessed are the Peace Makers! For they shall be Called The Children of GOD.”—Matt. v. 9. When driven by necessity to take up arms for the restoration of his Nephew's person from captivity, though the further fruit of his skill and valour was the obtaining the treasures of the discomfited Enemy whom he had pursued principally with his own Servants, yet did Abraham from pious motives and a sacred observance of a vow he had made, refuse to partake of those treasures, though pressed so to do by the King, Abraham saying unto him, “I have lift up mine hand unto The LORD, The MOST HIGH, GOĎ, The POSSESSOR of Heaven and Earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not také anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, 'I have made Abram rich !' save only that which the young Men have eaten, and the portion of the Men which went with me, Aner, Eschol, and Manre: let them take their portion !”—Gen. xiv. 21 to 24. But though scrupulously mindful of his vow in not appropriating to himself any of the spoils of the victory, he was not regardless of what was due to the Church and Honour of GOD: "for he gave unto Melchizedec, who was the Priest of The MOST HIGH GOD, tithes of all that he had taken;" and in

« PreviousContinue »